Is there hope for Ontario condo owners?

With more than a million Ontario voters living in condominiums, you would think that condo owners would get more attention from Ontario politicians. You might even think that some of those politicians who are not in power would consider that condominium owners deserve ownership rights. The problem is that these political nitwits still think of condo owners as apartment renters. Yet, they do not even consider condo owners worthy of the same rights as renters.

Since the Condominium Act of 1998, condominium living in Ontario has been very much of a crap shoot. If you were lucky enough to get competent, fair, honest condominium management, you had hope. The only problem has been the large and growing bands of opportunists who see condominium owners as easy pickings. Would you waste time selling something like chimney repairs or driveway oiling to individual homeowners when you can sell more than 200 homeowners at once? An industry was born.

Property managers were the most serious need and they sprang from rental apartment buildings, shopping mall management, industrial parks and businesses that made money buying for others. A high rise condominium building can often have an annual buying power in the million-dollar plus range and this is not business to be sneezed at. This is opportunity and there is considerable interest in the riches of property management.

As is natural, law firms also got into the act—or at least read the Condominium Act and start to sell their services. There is always lots of conflict brewing and when times are slow, the creative firm can dream up new rules for condo owners to buy.

Engineers have had a field day. These worthies are supported by the Condominium Act and condo boards are supposed to listen to them. And that listening can cause a lot of expense that a smart homeowner would never agree to. But condo boards are the lowest common denominator of their buildings and they tend to do what their property manager tells them—especially if they think the property manager has read and understood the Condominium Act.

The biggest problem in condominium living is the Ontario government. In their ignorance the government tends to write new laws that supersede any previous laws and leave the previous law in limbo unless there is a court case to decide. That pleases lawyers, disquiets judges and keeps the hallowed halls of the Ontario Legislature a make-work place for idle politicians. And you only think that is funny until an incompetent condominium board decides you are going to have individual suite metering for electricity when your condo declaration says this is paid collectively—and you can spend the next five years of your life in the courts.

And it is all thanks to those incompetents at Queen’s Park.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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